ECHO PARK — Canopies have popped across the lawns and bright-red portals and Tori-style gate decorations have been put in place. The graffiti is being scrubbed away and the lotus, lilies and other aquatic plants are getting some last-minute TLC. There is no time to waste as thousands are expected to descend on Echo Park Lake this weekend, July 9 & 10, for the 36th annual Echo Park Lotus Festival.
This year’s festival, which celebrates Asian and Pacific-Asian cultures and traditions, pays tribute to the Republic of Korea. With large numbers of Koreans living in Los Angeles, “we will probably have more people attending this year,” said Leo Pandac, who heads the nonprofit that organizes the festival in partnership with the Department of Parks and Recreation.
Here’s what visitors can expect this weekend:
- Hours: The festival officially begins at 12 pm on both days but many food booths and craft vendors might open sooner. The festival closes at 9 pm on Saturday and 8 pm on Sunday.
- Cost: Admission and entertainment is free; the food and vendor merchandise is not.
- Location: Most activities, including music and dance performances, food and merchandise booths, will be located on the north side of Echo Park Lake.
- The Theme: This year’s festival will honor and feature the culture and traditions of the Republic of Korea.
- What’s New This Year: An “Eco-Friendly LA” area filled with booths and demonstrations on creating a greener Los Angeles. Also, a Japanese tea house featuring traditional tea ceremonies will return to the festival after being absent for more than a decade, Pandac said.
- Entertainment & Activities: The schedule of events on Saturday and Sunday features a wide range of live music and dance performances featuring Asian culture. The lineup ranges from Hawaiian and Tahitian dance performances to Taiko drummers and “zen-like”music and DJs. There will also be more mainstream fare, including jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and R&B.
- Dragon Boat Races: Several teams will race across the lake during the weekend, with an awards ceremony planned to honor the winners on Sunday.
- Kids & Family: Most of the events are family friendly, but the martial arts demonstration and bounce houses area always popular with the kids.
- Food: Nearly 20 food booths will serve up primarily Asian food, including Chinese, Korean, Thai and Filipino.
- Craft & Merchandise Booths: More than 20 vendors selling various types of merchandise and crafts will be open for business.
- Community Booths: More than 40 booths will be occupied by community groups and government agencies to dispense information and, in some cases, freebies.
- No, no & no: There will be no fireworks or carnival rides as had been the case in years past. The island in the north end of the lake, an unofficial bird sanctuary, will remain off limits to the public during the festival.
- Parking & Traffic: It will be bad. This year’s festival coincides with Dodger games on Saturday and Sunday, so expect traffic to be extra heavy across Echo Park. There will be a satellite parking lot available for Lotus Festival visitors at Logan Street Elementary (entrance off Lemoyne Street). Visitors will have to walk two blocks to get to the festival.
- Take The Bus: Visitors are encouraged to take Metro buses, which run along Glendale and Sunset boulevards. Echo Park residents can take the DASH bus that runs on Echo Park Avenue directly to the park.
- Street Closures: Park Avenue, on the north end of the park, between Glendale Boulevard and Echo Park Avenue.
- Security: “We encourage everyone to be watchful,” said Pandac of efforts to keep festival goers safe. Vendors, staff and visitors should report unattended packages, backpacks and other suspicious items, he said.
- Don’t Forget The Lotus! The lotus flowers, the star of the weekend festival, in the northwest corner of the lake are actually in short supply this year, with many having already bloomed. But those plants that are still in bloom are “very beautiful,” said Pandac. The flowers close up at the end of the day, so lotus lovers should arrive during the late morning or early afternoon for the best show.
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